What YOU Know that Can Help Get Rid of Your Heel Pain
Getting rid of heel pain can be more like solving a mystery than you might expect.
First of all, “heel pain” can be the result of a number of different conditions. From plantar fasciitis to Achilles tendinitis or stress fractures, the list of suspects can be lengthy.
Second, even when a culprit is identified, that doesn’t necessarily close the case. We need to know the reasons why that condition developed. What factors have influenced it? Only by directly addressing these factors can heel pain be treated most effectively.
So, dealing with heel pain does take a bit of medical detective work for the best results. We have the tools and expertise to perform a comprehensive examination of your feet – but there is further information that can help us arrive at a diagnosis and an ideal treatment plan more efficiently.
And it is the information that you have.
Your Experiences Can Reveal a Lot About Your Heel Pain
We can determine a lot about the causes of your heel pain through a physical examination, but learning more about how your pain is affecting you on a day-to-day basis can provide a much fuller, clearer overall picture.
Here are a few ways these clues can help.
Can We See Your Shoes?
If you are coming in for a heel pain appointment with us, bring a pair of well-used shoes along with you.
Old shoes can tell us a lot about your walking style, simply by taking a look at how the treads have worn down over time. Ideally, treads should wear out pretty evenly. However, if we notice uneven wear in certain areas – such as in the heel or along the inner or outer edges of the shoes – that can be indicative of a gait abnormality that may be contributing to your heel pain.
If you overpronate (i.e. your feet roll inward too far when you walk), you may be placing too much stress on certain areas of your feet, which can become overstrained and lead to persistent heel pain. If a structural or gait abnormality is in play, we may recommend switching to more supportive shoes or the use of custom orthotics to provide corrective support.
When Do Your Heels Hurt Most?
Heel pain is not always a constant. There are probably times when your heel pain is especially severe, and you’ve likely come to dread them.
Some conditions are more likely to flare up at certain points than others. A classic example is morning heel pain.
If your heels are prone to sharp jolts of stabbing pain as soon as your feet hit the floor in the morning, it’s more likely that you’re dealing with plantar fasciitis, an aggravation of the thick band of tissue running from your heel bone to your toes.
If your pain tends to happen after activity, or while climbing hills or stairs, you might have Achilles tendinitis instead. This concerns the tendon that connects the heel bone to the calf muscles, so anything that gets those calves really pulling on the heels can soon cause trouble.
Where Do Your Heels Hurt Most?
Not all cases of heel pain happen in precisely the same spot. And as we’ve hinted at above, your heel bone itself is not the only participant in a heel pain mystery. Connected or nearby elements such as the plantar fascia, Achilles tendon, bursae, and even nerves are often suspects as well.
Being specific about the location of your pain can provide a helpful clue. If the pain is on the underside of your foot, toward the heel but not far from the arch, that may be plantar fasciitis. If it’s in the actual back of the heel, or just above it, that’s more indicative of Achilles tendinitis or bursitis.
What Are the Demands of Your Day?
Do you work out regularly? Are you a runner or active in sports that require a lot of movement or jumping? If so, we may want to take a look at how hard you push yourself and the types of shoes you use. Either may be contributing to your problems.
What do you do for work? Are you required to spend all day standing or walking on hard surfaces? Do you have to squat or stoop down often? If we determine these factors are affecting your heels, it could benefit you to make changes to your routines or environment (such as laying down anti-fatigue mats), if possible.
Let’s Get to the Bottom of Your Heel Pain Mystery
The questions above are certainly not exhaustive. We may ask you more, depending on what we find.
And, of course, if there is something you feel is relevant to your situation that we don’t ask about, please don’t hesitate to bring it up! The more we know, the better.
Our practice has a wide range of heel pain treatments, from traditional methods to advanced therapies, to meet the needs of a multitude of conditions and patient needs. Once we get to the root of your heel pain, we can discuss the best route for your treatment with you.